This is the IFF World Model. Roll over each of the factors, or use the navigation panel on the right hand side of the page, to investigate trends and discontinuities in each area. For more information on the model overall and how to use it visit the world model pages.
DescriptionTrade is the age old process of exchange between people, businesses and nations. Although global trade has a long history there are some characteristics that arise from our 'shrinking planet' that make its impact greater than ever before. The power provided by fossil fuels and engine technology, combined with containerization, has created a shipping industry that can transport bulk materials around the world relatively rapidly, enabling, for example, China to become a manufacturing centre for the world. Air transport has speeded up exchange of smaller packages including foodstuffs, and all this is logistically supported by global digital communications and computing. Software itself is a widely traded commodity. The transfer of funds and other financial instruments is now virtually instant and global. In the era of cheap oil and developed infrastructure, we have created a just-in-time, make anything anywhere, global trade system. All of these factors profoundly affect international economic relations. Behind these are areas such as foreign direct investment, technology transfer and financial flows that enable and lubricate the global exchanges.